Being successful in bracket racing in these times is a lot like running through a gauntlet, what with seven-figure purses driving technical innovation and drawing the world’s best driving talent out of the woodwork. And in this high-speed chess match, you want every advantage at your disposal possible.
Fred Bartoli and his team at Altronics have aimed to provide one more tool in a driver’s arsenal with the PerformAIRE Pro, a professional grade, trailer-mounted weather station designed to provide accurate weather measurement and data collection, and, most importantly, a prediction of your elapsed time.
The PerformAIRE Pro utilizes a formula that Bartoli, himself an NHRA class racer, has developed over a number of years, that takes into account key atmospheric metrics and calculates an elapsed time down to what Bartoli says is within a few thousandths to a hundredth of a second. The device, of course, cannot account for outside variables — wind gusts, traction, vehicle inconsistencies, to name a few — but it has helped propel many of drag racing’s biggest bracket racing names to countless victories.
Of course, in a high-tech society, you expect data at your fingertrips, and the PerformAIRE Pro uses your personal computer to process data and then transmits that data to you anywhere you are at the track using smartphone texting or built-in paging capability.
The unit itself is built inside a rainproof enclosure that is mounted using an extension pole with a threaded mount. A single cable connects the unit to your computer, and the integrated paging system does not require a mounted antenna on or in your trailer to transmit. The pager will transmit weather data only using RFD radio signal, not an e.t. prediction, but with the accessibility of smartphones and personal hotspots/wifi these days, you’re likely to have access to your data on-the-fly anywhere.
The PerformAIRE Pro includes Altronics’ RaceWORKS Electronic Logbook Software. RaceWORKS controls the entire system by taking weather readings from the PerformAIRE PRO, sending paging information, and stores and uses run data to calculate relapsed time predictions. This software allows you to create multiple logbooks for different vehicles and multiple events for each logbook.
“All of the algorithms that compute the weather variables are really the heart of this system; that, along with the prediction technology. When the user inputs their data into the computer, along with the weather readings, the computer analyzes all of that data and provides an accurate prediction based on the current weather. Twenty-six years ago I patented the weather station for racing, and that included a lot of the algorithms for the atmospheric relation to internal combustion engine performance,” Bartoli explains. “There have been some refinements to it over the years, but the cars still work on the same principle: they take in atmospheric oxygen and they burn racing gas and they create horsepower. Things like moisture, wind, and track conditions still effect them. We have come out with changes over the years to the algorithm relating to certain fuels, like alcohol and e85, but the basic principle has remained the same.”
Density altitude is effectively the key calculation in the data, and the system accuracy of the PerformAIRE Pro is +/- 50-feet. As Bartoli explains, 1-degree of air temperature on an average day is equivalent to 100-feet in density altitude. So between temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure, the tolerance on the system is very right.
“If you could race inside a bubble that had consistent air and no wind, assuming the car worked correctly mechanically, the system would be accurate down to within a few thousandths off a second of repeatability. Unfortunately, when you get out into the real world, you have track conditions, you have wind — which is a huge factor — and they can all effect the prediction, and those variables are occurring as you’re going down the race track. Nature is imperfect; you’ll have wind variances and even temperature differences over a 1/4-mile,” Bartoli says.
The PerformAIRE Pro is sold in a number of configurations and can be optioned with oxygen and wind sensors, additional pagers, remote display modules, extension posts, and other accessories.